Day one at the NAF Five Star Winter Dressage Championships provided a great deal of entertainment – great sporting action, big scores and nine worthy winners.
GFS Elementary Open Freestyle
It wouldn’t be a Winter Championships if Ruth Edge’s name wasn’t on the leaderboard and on day one, there she was atop the GFS Elementary Open Freestyle. Lucy Pincus and Sheepcote Don Calisto must have felt they’d done enough to secure a top three placing with their 73.53% in the first group of riders but the final four riders relegated her to fifth! Firstly Hannah Guild and Corienta nudged them off with 73.91% before Debbie Poynter and Keystone for Real danced to an amazing 75.9%. Louise Davison riding the eye-catching grey Sport Horse Centre Carilla with their ‘Gladiator’ music routine came close with 74.04% before the final combination of Ruth Edge and Simon & Lindsay Middleton’s Rock Me Amadeus blew everyone away with a final score of 77.82%.
Ruth has ridden the Oscar-sired gelding since last September when owner Lindsay decided eventing wasn’t for him and dressage would be more his thing and who better to hand the reins to. “I couldn’t be more pleased with him today,” said Ruth. “He’s such a trier! He’s never been anywhere this exciting and he took it all in. Riding the extended trot was just pure pleasure! I’m delighted to announce that I really enjoyed myself in there – it’s not often you can say that is it?”
She continued; “It’s lovely to ride a horse who gives his all and concentrates all the way. He just loves work and being busy.” Simon and Lindsay, who own Zebra Products, one of Ruth’s main sponsors, have decided to put the horse up for sale now he has found his true vocation in life.
The combination is also in action tomorrow in the Equitop Myoplast Elementary Open Championship and back for more on Sunday in the Albion Medium Open Championship.
Baileys Horse Feeds Novice Restricted Freestyle Championship
The Baileys Horse Feeds Novice Restricted Freestyle Championship kicked off the ‘dancing’ element of this year’s NAF Five Star Winter Dressage Championship where the tunes filled the Hartpury Arena as the horses and riders gave their all. The winner was 19 year old Jezz Palmer riding the Le Duc sired Royaume Uni. Jezz, from Southampton, was the first to go after the break and put up a great score of 75.37% to their upbeat floorplan.
It was a tense wait for Jezz right up to the final rider when Claire Bull and Regal Hit came in and were really impressive. However the final score was announced as 74.81%, giving the win to Jezz. It was a great win for the connections as his trainers Roland Tong and Ben St John James have both won this title in the past.
Jezz said of his ride; “At his previous Championships he was a little weak and got tired but today he was a different horse – really underneath me and I was able to really ride him. Normally I come out after a test and pick holes in everything – today, there no holes to pick! Yesterday, he ripped my trainer Ben’s rug so I thought I better go out and win a new one!”
He continued; “At home he can be quite fresh and nervous but we’re really developing his confidence so we can turn that to our advantage. I’m really pleased with how he coped today. I’m really grateful to my owners, Jules Clanfield and Margaret Allen and my trainers Roland Tong and Ben St John James for getting me here – plus my girlfriend Lucy for getting up so early this morning to plait!”
It was a more exciting prize giving than anticipated when six year old Royaume Uni got a shock as he was put in the spotlight, depositing Jezz on the floor and scaring Claire’s Regal Hit in the process so she also found herself on the floor. Third place Anna Lawson and Carentino Z managed to stay together though! Claire was attended by the medics for an injured ankle while Jezz remounted to take his lap of honour.
Jezz and Royaume Uni have a chance of another title tomorrow in the Blue Chip Novice Restricted Championship.
Charles Owen Advanced Medium Restricted
Worcestershire dressage rider Calum Whitworth, 25, today added a second National title to his name. He rode Ramazotti III, a German-bred gelding by Rubin Royal, to head the Charles Owen Advanced Medium Restricted Championship with 69.91%, more than two percent ahead of his nearest rival.
This was the second championship victory in 12 months for Calum and his exciting nine-year-old bay – they also won the medium restricted at the summer national championships at Stoneleigh last September. “I’m really proud of him,” said Calum. “Today, he took it on and enjoyed himself. He’s such a good horse, he makes it easy for me.”
Calum, who is based with international rider Peter Storr, bought Ramazotti two years ago from his former employer, Caroline Saynor. He has however ridden the horse since he was a hot prospect four-year-old. “He’s a strong character and goey but I know him inside out,” said Calum. “He’s established at the level now so I can steer him and don’t have to work so hard.”
“He’s progressing well and ready for prix st georges. We’ll do a PSG in a month or so, consolidate at that level, then push on from there. He’s a great long-term hope for me.”
Nirvana Spa Para Dressage Championships
The sun did it’s best to shine for the Nirvana Spa Para Dressage Championship classes – great news for sponsor Diana Barley who’d freshly arrived from the airport after a trip in warmer climes!
With a depleted entry, the Grade Ia and Ib was combined for one Championship and it was veteran combination Anne Dunham and Sally Anne Brown’s Teddy who came out tops with a great 73.91%; the only combination across the grades to break the 70% barrier. “He was fantastic today, so relaxed and so rideable – just brilliant really!” said a delighted Anne. “He looks such a pleasure to ride but he does have a wicked side and that’s what gives him his star quality; he’s the horse of a lifetime,” she continued. The combination is now one competition shy of their goal of qualification for the British Para Championships at Hickstead in June. Lee Pearson was second with Zion on 68.53 with Natalie Povey just behind on 66.03% with Westpoint First Lady.
In the Grade II, it was a win for Jo Pitt with her parents’ Estralita, fresh from a strong performance in Deauville. The combination have come out this year with a renewed vigour which they attribute to new trainer, Liza McQuiston. “He’s really improved and I’m so pleased with him today,” said Jo. A score of 69.21% gave them a clear margin over second placed Edward Chanin with My Rubicon who scored 64.93%.
It was an emotional win in the Grade III for Emma Kent and ‘her ginger one’ Gentle. Emma had a virus in January which left her feeling she may never ride again while Gentle has also been under the weather. “The fact we’re actually here is amazing so to win is beyond my wildest dreams!” said an exstatic Emma. A score of 67.62% gave them nearly 2% over runners up Roberta Sheffield and Wonderboy. Emma said of her success; “I really like the new 2013 tests which is a bonus! We also have a new tack set up which has made him more rideable and relaxed. The judges seem to prefer the picture it gives.” Third went to Alex McNamara with DHI Grand Derry on 65.4%.
The Grade IV was a close fought affair with Vanessa Knight the victor with her Breitling-sired stallion Balistro 4 on 65.77%. “Surprising and very pleasing,” was what Vanessa had to say on her win. The surprise element was because Vanessa made the worst start possible with an error but they quickly put that behind them. “He really listened after the mistake and carried on. His half pass was good today and I felt his medium and extended canter was great – a bonus as this isn’t his strongest,” said Vanessa. Purchased from Germany, Balistro and Vanessa have taken a while to bond. “I bought him on temperament alone – I certainly didn’t go to Germany with buying a stallion in mind! He has the most perfect mind but stallions are never straightforward. Huge thanks go to my trainers Peter Storr and Callum Whitworth – and to the show organisers for making such an effort to ensure we could compete!” Phillipa Bishop and Gambarda finished second on 64.18% with Kathryn Gallager third on Waragon with 63.39%.
Spillers Medium Restricted Music Freestyle
Lancashire rider Hayley Colwell stormed to victory with Zidaane, a nine-year-old Jazz-sired Dutch gelding, who she co-owns with Astrid Bolton, after posting 75.50% to secure the Spillers Medium Restricted Music Freestyle in emphatic style.
“I’m thrilled with him,” said Hayley, who rides full-time for sports horse agent, Astrid, who co-owns the impressive bright chestnut with Hayley.” His collected trot was a highlight today – he had lots of expression.”
Typically of a horse by Jazz, Zidaane has proved quite a challenge.”His stable name is Jacob – because he was ‘cream crackers’,” laughed Hayley. “We recently spoke with Tineke Bartels in Holland who used to ride Jazz. She told us Jazz horses often find it difficult to cope until they’re eight-years-old. That’s so true with him.”
However, the horse is now showing maturity and really coming into his own. “He is actually better at a competition – it gives him something else to work his mind on,” said Hayley. “He’s a big horse, but he’s sensitive, and light to ride.”
Hayley and Zidaane, who last year won the Elementary Restricted title, are hoping to add to their impressive championship record. Tomorrow, they contest the Medium Restricted and Elementary Open championships so won’t be heading back home quite yet.
Petplan Equine Elementary Open Area Festival Championship
Shelley Reeve-Smith from Herefordshire with Lord Navedis, her eight-year-old KWPN gelding, topped the leaderboard in the Petplan Equine Elementary Open Area Festival Championship with a solid 69.31%. Over-exuberance in the morning’s first round of the final resulted in a more modest 64.48% for the Negro-sired Lord Navedis, but still enough to qualify for the afternoon’s second round.
“I didn’t expect to do so well,” said a delighted Shelley. “He was a little fresh this morning. There were some great moments but he threw in a huge buck which affected a couple of movements. I therefore rode a safer test this afternoon and he held it together.”
Describing Lord Navedis, known as Noah to his friends, Shelley said: “He’s a very kind horse. I bought him as an unbroken three-year-old and he was very easy to start off. He has big bouncy paces and used to be very lazy so has taken a while to come into his own. I train with my mum Susan and my sister Tahley. I’ve also had a lesson with Charlotte Dujardin and she helped with getting him more forward.”
Shelley’s sister will soon be taking over the ride to keep Noah progressing while Shelley undergoes decompression surgery for Chiari malformation, a condition which means that the lower part of the brain is pushed down towards the spinal cord. “It causes headaches, dizziness and numbness and tingling in my hands,” explained Shelley. “It has been getting progressively worse for two years and has affected me, particularly the dizziness.”
Shelley, who rides full time, and also show jumps, is keen to crack on once she’s back to full health. “He’s a lovely horse and I’m keen to move him up the levels.”
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